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Columbia Missourian

Today's Question: What would be an appropriate sentence for Charles Williams III?

By Tram Whitehurst
October 26, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Last week a Boone County judge threw out the initial sentencing of a Columbia teen convicted of second-degree robbery, citing an error made by the prosecution in its closing argument.

Charles Williams III, 17, was found guilty by a Boone County jury in September and was recommended for a 12-year sentence for his part in the “Knock Out King” robbery in a downtown parking garage. During the June attack, Williams, four men and two juveniles hit, kicked and robbed 25-year-old Columbia resident Adam Taylor.

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Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane was scheduled to sentence Williams last Friday. Crane had the option of accepting the jury’s recommended sentence of 12 years or handing down a lesser sentence. Class B felonies in Missouri, including second-degree robbery, are punishable by a sentence ranging anywhere from 5 to 15 years. The prosecutor in the case, Richard Hicks, had asked the jury to recommend the maximum sentence.

But instead of handing down a sentence on Friday, Crane granted a defense motion for a new trial for sentencing. During closing arguments in the original trial, Hicks had told jurors to disregard the possibility of probation or parole when deciding their sentence, an error Crane said “would not survive on appeal.”

Williams’ attorney, Harry Williams (no relation), said Hicks’ statements could have influenced jurors on their sentencing recommendation.

“It was already in their minds that 15 years is not 15 years,” he said. He also disagreed with the original sentencing recommendation, saying 12 years would “not be constructive for his client.”

Hicks argued vehemently against the motion and denied that he tried to persuade jurors that Crane could shorten Charles Williams’ sentence.

What would be an appropriate sentence for Charles Williams III?